G Jones goes to 6-0 as Kings blank Oilers

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- Despite being backstopped by a goalie who started the season in the minor leagues, the Los Angeles Kings continue to be the stingiest team in the NHL.
Rookie Martin Jones set a franchise record for the best career start by a goaltender as the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 Tuesday.
A former undrafted free agent, Jones won each of his first six games with the Kings, eclipsing the mark of five held by Jason LaBarbera and Daniel Berthiaume. Jones stopped 24 shots Tuesday for his third shutout. He is a major reason Los Angeles (23-9-4) has yielded a league-low 68 goals.
Los Angeles bounced back from a loss to the Blackhawks in Chicago on Sunday that snapped a season-best, six-game winning streak. By beating Edmonton, the Kings kept pace in the hotly contested Pacific Division with the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks, both winners on the road Tuesday.
Recalled after Kings regular goaltender Jonathan Quick suffered a Grade 2 groin strain in late November, Jones realizes his historic start will go a long way toward securing his future in Los Angeles. With third goaltender Ben Scrivens an unrestricted free agent at season's end, the stakes are high for the rookie.
"It's been a good start," Jones said. "I just want to make sure I keep doing the little things here. We played pretty well the last little stretch here, so we just want to make sure that we finish out the last three games before the (Christmas) break here in the right way."
The Kings were coming off a four-game road trip, and coach Darryl Sutter was impressed with the team's effort. The Oilers played Sunday in Anaheim against the Ducks, and they were a rested opponent despite residing in the Western Conference basement.
"I was impressed with our team tonight because of the tough haul," Sutter said. "It's been a tough stretch of games, tough travel back with them waiting for us. You score one goal, then you're fighting the whole night."
The Oilers (11-22-3) remained winless through three games on a four-game road trip, but they got a solid effort from goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who stopped 37 of 39 shots.
Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins tried to remain optimistic in a season that is slipping away. The loss put the Oilers 20 points behind the final Western Conference wild-card position, and trade rumors are under way.
"I thought we were able to play with them," Eakins said. "I thought Bryzgalov was excellent, and we had the puck in our right skilled players' hands to generate chances, and we couldn't score."
Los Angeles took the lead at 16:38 of the opening period.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty took possession of the puck just inside the Edmonton blue line. Doughty drove down the slot and threw a backhand pass to left winger Dwight King, who wristed it home for his career-high ninth goal of the season. Forward Jeff Carter earned the second assist.
After a scoreless second period, the teams traded breakaway chances in the first half of the final period.
Oilers winger Taylor Hall was sprung three minutes into the third, but his backhand shot rolled wide of the Los Angeles net. Shortly thereafter, Carter came in alone on Bryzgalov, but his backhand attempt was stopped to keep the one-goal margin in place.
Hall was dangerous again for the Oilers with six minutes remaining in regulation, but his wrist attempt from the slot glanced off Jones' shoulder. He bemoaned the missed opportunities that could have changed the outcome for his struggling team.
"They are a good team. They are a heavy team. I thought we had some good push-back tonight," Hall said. "Maybe if a couple of bounces went our way and their goalie wasn't as hot as he is, it could have been a different game. They like to get zone time on us, but overall it was a pretty good effort."
Los Angeles finally padded its lead at 15:22 of the third. Nolan gathered in a pass lobbed into the Edmonton zone by defenseman Matt Greene and beat Bryzgalov low to the right side.
The Oilers had a chance to get within one with less than three minutes left in regulation but could not capitalize on an interference call on Los Angeles winger Dustin Brown.
Brown came out of the penalty box to add an empty-net goal for his 400th career NHL point.
NOTES: Edmonton did not dress LW Jesse Joensuu, D Corey Potter and C Anton Lander. ... Trade rumors continue to circulate around the Oilers, with RW Ales Hemsky and LW Linus Omark (currently with the team's AHL Oklahoma City affiliate) garnering the most discussion. ... Edmonton finishes a four-game road trip against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Thursday. ... Los Angeles scratched LW Kyle Clifford, LW Daniel Carcillo and D Willie Mitchell. Mitchell suffered an upper-body injury in Ottawa on Dec. 14 and missed his second straight game. ... The Kings will play at home until the Christmas break, with upcoming games against the San Jose Sharks (Thursday), Colorado (Saturday) and the Dallas Stars (Monday).